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what should I believe??

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

Hello,

 

I've been reading a lot on Waldorf over the past several months, trying to learn everything I can before enrolling my DD at our local private Waldorf school next year.  I've seen some references and discussions on these boards to blogs blasting Waldorf schools, and I've checked out some of those blogs myself.  They are difficult to ignore.  However, the vast majority of what I see in my research is positive, reinforcing my thinking that most Waldorf schools are truly what they say they are -- open-minded, accepting, nurturing, interested in educating the whole child, and so on.  These are the qualities that draw me to Waldorf education. 

 

Today I set out to find other Waldorf-dedicated boards to look at in addition to this board (which I love, BTW).  In doing so, I landed on the blog below.  It horrified me and had me questioning everything.  

 

How does one with no first-hand experience simply dismiss these accounts?  It does not seem to be limited to a few disgruntled-types.  Rather, it seems there are scores of former Waldorf families with cautionary (and worse) tales. 

 

BTW, I am less concerned with the "religious/spiritual" aspect of the schools (I'm aware of the lawsuits against some of the Waldorf-inspired public schools and I'm not particularly troubled).  I'm much more concerned with the allegedly negative treatment of children and families for not conforming, the seeming lack of any real channel to seek redress, and the accounts of children not getting taught the basics.

 

Thanks for your help.  

 

 

http://carolwyatt.blogspot.com/2010/07/waldorf-rant-part-1.html 

post #2 of 25

Here's the thing, she's complaining about things (Radio, esp. Pop music, flashy sparkling clothing at school) which just aren't welcome in a Waldorf school. I'm surprised as a second-time parent there she wouldn't know it.  Frankly, I wish some of my kids' teachers had had the pop music talk with other parents in their classes.  Being Media-free is part of being Waldorf, various schools have various levels of requests in that regard, but as a parent who adheres to this it is upsetting when things come home you don't want your child exposed to. This is a part of the reason for going to a Waldorf school, not all of it, but part of it.  After a few years and more than one child in school,  I tend to realize it just happens, and even at a Waldorf school it will still happen and it's better than the levels at a typical school, but at first it was alarming.  I respect a school that actually requests families adhere to their dress codes and not just have them be words on the paper for only those to follow who wish to do so.


I'm sure they really happened to her and they're really upset about it, I also tend to realize these things are one-sided accounts from really upset people.  Maybe they were judgemental and critical towards her child, maybe they were concerned and caring and she felt judged. Who knows?

 

I wouldn't say 'ignore' it, I'd say put it in your 'box' of things you've read and then decide for yourself.  Just like traditional schools, every school community is different and has it's own life.  Spend time at your prospective school, and realize that no where is perfect, you're just looking for the best fit for your child and family.  Whenever I read things like that, I remember my own traumatic experiences from my (public, traditional) schooling and think of the blog posts *I* could write about it - yet people flock to the town I grew up in for their schools.

post #3 of 25

Just checked out that blog, shouldn't have. Yes, maybe if you're 5 year old wants to be a 'pop star diva' and wears belly shirts, Waldorf might not be a good fit. Why be traumatized by that? Just move on.  There is no one size fits all school/philosophy/lifestyle choice.

post #4 of 25

Any time these threads come up, the general consensus is . . .. visit the school, talk to the teachers, talk to other parents, see what the vibe is, read the rules and regulations and then see how they're applied (or not) in practice. Then make up your own mind.

 

Also, be aware that things can change and your child may not like whatever school you pick. It may not fit him/her, no matter how nice the school is or how much you like the philosophy . . . we picked a great neighborhood school for DS -- wonderful reputation, 5 minute walk, lots of great families, good teachers . . . and DS didn't fit in. We moved to Waldorf (a school that doesn't have a great academic reputation, is further away, and the families, on the surface at least, aren't really our kind of people), and DS is thriving and loves it. The other day he came home and said, "I had a perfect day!" smile.gif

 

My point . .. . Waldorf may or may not be a good fit for your child(ren) and your family but don't let disenchanted people on the 'net put you off. Visit the school yourself, see what you think, make a decision, and be flexible and open to changing if things don't work out.

 

FWIW: We love Waldorf for our DS, despite a lot of initial reservations. It fits him very well. However, we live in W. Europe and I think our school functions more like a charter school would in N. America. There are no rules about TV or clothes or whatever. Most families limit screen time and tend not to go in for brand clothing, characters, etc. but there aren't regulations, per se, about this kind of stuff in DS' school. Therefore, I don't know how I'd feel at a school that actually regulated this kind of thing.

 

Good luck with your decision.

post #5 of 25

hm that's wierd that a parent would be so worried that her daughter can't be a diva!  And it is corrupting other children with pop music nowadays.  My dd got told once too last year.

Pretty superficial.  I'm more worried about the education, not the clothes.  Who cares.

post #6 of 25

 

 


Edited by accountclosed3 - 7/25/12 at 1:09pm
post #7 of 25

I have read a lot of the anti-Waldorf criticism out there, and at the end of the day, not much of it bothered me.  I'd just be sure I had a real, solid understanding of what is expected in the community of the school.  And from what I know of most Waldorf communities, the stuff she describes (pop tunes, sparkles) would not be welcome.  Candidly, I would not be pleased if one of my child's classmates was wearing pink sparkly diva tennis shoes and belting out pop tunes on the playground. I, too, would consider that a serious matter. 

 

Why?  Because seeking out a haven from mass-marketed clothing and toys, trying to protect my daughter from media-driven hype--those are some of the main reasons I would make the commitment to send my daughter to a Waldorf school (and all the expense and sacrifice it would mean).   My guess is that the problem escalated when there was a breakdown of communication, and/or a feeling among the school and parents that she didn't respect or understand the school's values. To me, that would be a serious matter.  It's sort of like there is a core set of values that the school community has agreed to live by, and it is part of the deal that you respect and honor those values.  If you don't, and worse yet, if you demonstrate lack of respect or understanding for those ideals and values, then that is a serious matter.  If you'll allow me to really stretch an analogy, imagine a school had a policy about no peanuts because of allergy reasons.  If someone brought peanuts that would be a serious matter (both because of the risk and the thoughtlessness of the parent who sent the peanuts).  Some parents would feel that sparkly diva shoes and pop music is a hazard and contaminating to the children's environment.  If a fellow parent didn't understand that, other parents may feel it is a big deal. 

 

It clearly helps if there is a written policy about these things, and clear communication about it.  Maybe she was confused about whether sparkly shoes were permitted, but frankly, I'm surprised the parent was surprised about that.  I would think most Waldorf parents would "get it."  That she didn't "get it" may have been the larger problem.  So, my point is really, when you take a close look at the school, do the policies make sense to you?  Do you understand the philosphy behind them?  If you get it, and feel like that is consistent with your own values, it could be a really good fit.

 

     

post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 

I really appreciate all of the thoughtful and sincere responses so far.  I think my list of questions to ask of the school is growing.  I want to be sure I'm not the parent who avails her DD of a wonderful education rich in art, music, language and meaningful instruction, while sabotaging it by allowing sparkles on her shoes.  Why, my DD currently attends a preschool where media is banned as is meat, princess clothes, and anything non-organic brought in is frowned upon.  I strive to follow every rule (and there are many) because it's part of the bargain I accepted when I enrolled her.  Several children at this preschool have light-up shoes, including my DD!  There's no fuss.  I believe everyone thinks the shoes (which incidently have no brand name visible) are utterly innocuous.  Their art projects use all manner of decorations, including sparkly objects.  My daughter thinks these things are treasures.  She also thinks rocks and the occasional dead bug are just as precious.  She is no diva and doesn't act like one.

 

This morning I was getting DD ready for preschool and I selected a shirt we picked up at the thrift store.  Upon further inspection I saw that the shirt had several glossy beads sewn onto it.  I thought for a moment, "they sparkle and shine a little in the sunlight, would this be okay at Waldorf?"  If I sent her in wearing this, would there be a problem?  I want to believe that the school is reasonable.  But, perhaps we all have different definitions of what is reasonable.  One minute you think you're following along and the next you find out you don't "get it".  If I sound paranoid, it's only because I want to know what the rules are so there are no surprises later.  I'm afraid I won't be able to simply intuit the rules. I never would have guessed that a few sparkles were a serious matter.  Pop music yes, sparkles, not so much.

 

 

 

 

post #9 of 25

I just have to echo what everyone else is saying....it really depends on the school.

 

The last 4 years both of my daughters, at different times, were in a Waldorf preschool. We signed contracts on no media, agreed to participate in parent evenings etc. But kids wore media stuff all the time and nothing was ever done about it. In one way I didn't think it was a big deal.  No kid is going to need therapy because they saw tinkerbell on a shirt. On the other hand it was a bit frustrating.  I'm working hard to not send any of that to school, why does that person get to put whatever they want on their kid?  Also, I felt that we were paying really good money for  Waldorf and hoped things would be reinforced better.

 

We have moved across the country and are now in a larger, more established Waldorf school (preK and 1st grade).  This is much more the "real thing". They provided me with the parent handbook from the beginning, so I know what is expected.  I would have to say that if a parent reviewed any of this information and didn't agree or was not interested in complying with what is required at school, than it may not be the right school for them.  They encourage us to keep similar behaviors at home, but as long as things (media talk, pop songs, logo wear) aren't happening while at school, it seems to be ok. 

 

We are not perfect.  My girls LOVE Taylor Swift...and I don't have a problem with it.  They know enough not to belt it out at lunch time at school, that it's something we enjoy at home. They occasionally watch TV.  Sometimes its nice to relax together on a cold evening and watch a family show.  I wouldn't advertise this at school, but I also don't believe it will completely undo their Waldorf education. 

 

I have found the bonuses of Waldorf education to far outweigh any negatives for us. 

 

Everything in moderation.  Even Steiner said something along those lines himself.


Edited by wish - 9/15/11 at 7:04pm
post #10 of 25



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by babygirlsmama View Post

I have read a lot of the anti-Waldorf criticism out there, and at the end of the day, not much of it bothered me.  I'd just be sure I had a real, solid understanding of what is expected in the community of the school.  And from what I know of most Waldorf communities, the stuff she describes (pop tunes, sparkles) would not be welcome.  Candidly, I would not be pleased if one of my child's classmates was wearing pink sparkly diva tennis shoes and belting out pop tunes on the playground. I, too, would consider that a serious matter. 

 

Why?  Because seeking out a haven from mass-marketed clothing and toys, trying to protect my daughter from media-driven hype--those are some of the main reasons I would make the commitment to send my daughter to a Waldorf school (and all the expense and sacrifice it would mean).   My guess is that the problem escalated when there was a breakdown of communication, and/or a feeling among the school and parents that she didn't respect or understand the school's values. To me, that would be a serious matter.  It's sort of like there is a core set of values that the school community has agreed to live by, and it is part of the deal that you respect and honor those values.  If you don't, and worse yet, if you demonstrate lack of respect or understanding for those ideals and values, then that is a serious matter.  If you'll allow me to really stretch an analogy, imagine a school had a policy about no peanuts because of allergy reasons.  If someone brought peanuts that would be a serious matter (both because of the risk and the thoughtlessness of the parent who sent the peanuts).  Some parents would feel that sparkly diva shoes and pop music is a hazard and contaminating to the children's environment.  If a fellow parent didn't understand that, other parents may feel it is a big deal. 

 

It clearly helps if there is a written policy about these things, and clear communication about it.  Maybe she was confused about whether sparkly shoes were permitted, but frankly, I'm surprised the parent was surprised about that.  I would think most Waldorf parents would "get it."  That she didn't "get it" may have been the larger problem.  So, my point is really, when you take a close look at the school, do the policies make sense to you?  Do you understand the philosphy behind them?  If you get it, and feel like that is consistent with your own values, it could be a really good fit.

 

     

 

What she said. :) You put that very nicely.

 

 

post #11 of 25

I didn't know much about Steiner or Anthroposophy when we put our children into our local Waldorf school. 

 

We've learnt along the way and so far everything has been great. to be sure it is a small school funded only by parents and not without its challenges, but overall a delightful community and envionment.  I go by the fact that my DD gets upset if she has to miss school. For myself I can not remember any of my school life as a child where missing a day would have upset me.  The school must be providing her with something pretty wonderful for her to consistently want to be there and engage.

 

 I acknowledge I have a gap in my own knowledge  between the deep philosophical underpinnings of Steiner Education and the practical and very lovely day to day enjoyment my children experience so I can't explain or speak to that.

 

However, Kim John Payne's Simplicity Parenting is the best book I've found that makes a common sense modern approach to the reasons why we are asked as Steiner parents to not expose our kids to telly, why we are engaging in rythmns and natural connections, and why that mountain of toys has to go...he was a Steiner kindergarten teacher and I see each page he writes full of connection to the Waldorf ways...he has done a remarkable job of translating all of what happens in a Waldorf school and why  into a grounded and practical way of parenting and thereby making perfect sense of it all.

post #12 of 25

I just wanted to add, for a bit of perspective RE: that blog. The author's ex-husband married a Waldorf teacher, whom she seems to seriously dislike. I'm sure that seeps into her opinions on the schooling philosophy more than she'd admit...

post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by babygirlsmama View Post

I have read a lot of the anti-Waldorf criticism out there, and at the end of the day, not much of it bothered me.  I'd just be sure I had a real, solid understanding of what is expected in the community of the school.  And from what I know of most Waldorf communities, the stuff she describes (pop tunes, sparkles) would not be welcome.  Candidly, I would not be pleased if one of my child's classmates was wearing pink sparkly diva tennis shoes and belting out pop tunes on the playground. I, too, would consider that a serious matter. 

 

Why?  Because seeking out a haven from mass-marketed clothing and toys, trying to protect my daughter from media-driven hype--those are some of the main reasons I would make the commitment to send my daughter to a Waldorf school (and all the expense and sacrifice it would mean).   My guess is that the problem escalated when there was a breakdown of communication, and/or a feeling among the school and parents that she didn't respect or understand the school's values. To me, that would be a serious matter.  It's sort of like there is a core set of values that the school community has agreed to live by, and it is part of the deal that you respect and honor those values.  If you don't, and worse yet, if you demonstrate lack of respect or understanding for those ideals and values, then that is a serious matter.  If you'll allow me to really stretch an analogy, imagine a school had a policy about no peanuts because of allergy reasons.  If someone brought peanuts that would be a serious matter (both because of the risk and the thoughtlessness of the parent who sent the peanuts).  Some parents would feel that sparkly diva shoes and pop music is a hazard and contaminating to the children's environment.  If a fellow parent didn't understand that, other parents may feel it is a big deal. 

 

It clearly helps if there is a written policy about these things, and clear communication about it.  Maybe she was confused about whether sparkly shoes were permitted, but frankly, I'm surprised the parent was surprised about that.  I would think most Waldorf parents would "get it."  That she didn't "get it" may have been the larger problem.  So, my point is really, when you take a close look at the school, do the policies make sense to you?  Do you understand the philosphy behind them?  If you get it, and feel like that is consistent with your own values, it could be a really good fit.

 

     


This! This! This! I think it is so important to really get a feel and understanding for what you are signing up for. If it doesn't feel like a good fit for your child, then that's okay. Another program will be.

 

Maybe to that mom it wasn't a big deal, but to others it would be. For me personally, the sparkles wouldn't bother me, and the branding wouldn't really either though I wouldn't choose to buy those items myself, but the pop songs would, especially at a Waldorf school. My friends little girls sing a lot of pop songs and I really just cringe every time the two year old sings "Baby common let me see, what you're hiding underneath, I wanna see your peacock cock cock'. I know she doesn't understand what it means, but I would not want that on the playground. It's not even a case of one or two songs being inappropriate, but many. To be honest, as a public school teacher, I would not be allowing children to sing inappropriate pop songs at school and would be talking to parents about it. Same thing with belly shirts. In reading blogs like this, I always try to remember it's one side of the story. Usually the side that is upset about the situation.

post #14 of 25

I read your post a few days but was so annoyed by that blog post it took me a few days to be able to respond...um...nicely.

 

I don't think her experience really has anything to do with Waldorf per se. It is common in private or select or any institution that has a strong pedagogy.

 

Parent selects school/institution with strong pedagogy. Understands philosophy and requirements of school. Is clearly appraised of various requirements for dress or uniforms or lunch or potty learning expectations or  religious expression or whatever.

 

Parent for whatever reason does not adhere to philosophy either because they don't really believe in the schools' beliefs or they change their mind or find it "hard." Well tough.

 

Schools reminds parent of the policy and parent does not change. Again. Again. Again.

 

I can't imagine what drives somebody to post such an unflattering description of their behavior. Follow the rules or leave, preferably without leaving a stinky trail on the internet.

 

The dress/behavior code in not that unusual, maybe a little strict. But I know half a dozen local schools that have similar policies (including our Reggio school) and none of them are even religous.

 

As a parent who chose a school that fits her philosophy and family life, I am really annoyed when parents repeatedly disregard the rules. If the school doesn't address it with the parent, then I would probably address it with the school.

 

Seriously, I have no issue with a parent who seemingly values a five year "diva" experience complete with too tight clothes, besparkled everything, dancing, and the music you prefer. To each there own. But why choose a school that doesn't value it and a community that prefers something else?

post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by JudiAU View Post

<<snipped>>

As a parent who chose a school that fits her philosophy and family life, I am really annoyed when parents repeatedly disregard the rules. If the school doesn't address it with the parent, then I would probably address it with the school.

 

Seriously, I have no issue with a parent who seemingly values a five year "diva" experience complete with too tight clothes, besparkled everything, dancing, and the music you prefer. To each there own. But why choose a school that doesn't value it and a community that prefers something else?


 

I repeatedly come back to this - I just don't understand it. I clearly remember being in a kindergarten meeting, where it seems nearly 1/2 the class was made up of families new to Waldorf. I kid you not, when the conversation turned to media people started arguing (nicely) or justifying their media. I kept wondering what they were doing there and why?! Though in some cases I think it's weak discussions on the front end before the families get to join the school that are to blame for those type of situations - it is important to talk to them before they enroll. However, in the case of the blogger, she was already a parent at the school so I can't imagine what was going on there.

 

And it's true, for every one parent who is upset they are being asked to adhere to the school policies, you are going to have several more upset if they're not asked.
 

 

post #16 of 25
Thread Starter 

What I'm gathering from reading these posts is that schools can differ greatly (interestingly, so can folks' opinions about the signifcance/harmfulness of sparkles).  The challenge I am facing is to find out about our school before we enroll.  I am doing everything I can to learn about Waldorf education (and all that entails) so I can decide if our particular school is going to be the right "fit" for us.  I want to be very well informed about the rules, because if we enroll, it is our obligation to respect and follow them.  That does not mean I will never dissent, or lodge a complaint, or voice my opinion, however (and I assume there will be channels for that).  But follow through with what we've agreed to - parents who sign on owe that to the school and all the families who make up that school's community.  I've had experiences of my own where I do everything it takes to play by the rules, and all around there are people who flout them.  Very frustrating.

 

What's really troubling about some of the critcisms, generally speaking, is that they go deeper than that.  They raise fundamental issues about the schools' following of the rules (this is a two way street, after all) about poor treatment, bullying going unnoticed/disregarded, and basics not being taught.  As another poster mentioned, I think it's possible that those on the "outs" (and especially those so inclined to leave a stinky internet trail) are angry and not, maybe, giving the clearest, most honest account of what was going on with the school -- a one-sided account, to be sure.

 

I also think it's important to remember that not everyone comes to the Waldorf school for precisely the same reasons.  Some may come because there is no better alternative in a school that can "shield" their child from the undesireable things in the world.  Some want the music, art, movement, language, spirituality, appreciation of nature/imagination/other viewpoints, gentleness, creativity in teaching, and on and on. 

 

post #17 of 25

Well put, LeLe Mom. I hope you find a place that is right for your family.

 

I had a strong reaction to her post and that stems, in part, not from a particular dislike of sequins but because I also live in Los Angeles. Los Angeles is a city of extremes and "diva children" are often at the extreme end. These types of behavior are more common I think and more encouraged. Small children, not even "tweens," in highly sexualized clothing who "gyrate to the beat" from watching frankly sexy "children's tv" are really common and very distressing. Seeing a six year old in a tube top and shorts that expose her bottom (really) mimicing sex moves is not that uncommon. The image created by that blog post was so clear that it was startling.

 

I don't really think we can shield our kids forever, but we do try to lessen the effect of what we view as the harmful effects of popular media.  And at least part of our goals is to the delay the onslaught of strong media influences until our kids are older, and better to make judgements about advertising-driven programming.

 


Edited by JudiAU - 9/20/11 at 2:29pm
post #18 of 25

JudiAU -- Thanks for that perspective.  That is what I was trying to convey.  I think it's more about understanding and respecting the expectations of a particular community, and not necessarily a Waldorf thing at all. 

 

I totally agree that different people come to Waldorf for different reasons, and it helps to understand that and understand what parts are important to you.  Some come to Waldorf partly because of the media policy, others come in spite of it.  I think it helps to know which you are, and what the climate is in the school.  Honestly, I'm starting to see the tricky thing is that it could totally depend on one parent/child in one class (ie if your child is in the same class), and the teacher's way of handling it.  One enthusiastic Disney princess loving girl in a small class of 10 or 12 kids can totally change the tone.  So I think it's important to ask the teacher and possibly administration what the expectations are. 

 

LeleMom -- sounds like you have a solid perspective, and are asking the right questions.  I have found it helpful when touring a school to ask fairly concrete questions, "what if a  child brought a Spiderman backpack to school," what would you do?  "What if A child was talking about the new Powerrangers movie?"  And so on.  When I ask "What is the media policy, I usually get different versions of the same answer, but asking about a specific example seems to get the real answer. 

 

Babygirlsmama

post #19 of 25
Thread Starter 

Thank you all for your thoughtful and helpful posts.  I will take your ideas and recommendations and see what more I can learn!  

 

I would still, however, really appreciate hearing people's thoughts about the academic side of their Waldorf school, if folks are willing to share their thoughts on that.

post #20 of 25

Honestly I would be upset with my child coming home singing pop songs that they were taught from another child. Our local Waldorf school is VERY upfront with dress code and media rules. You have to take a tour before you can get on the wait list and you are told all these things before hand, and why. I cant imagine anyone going into a Waldorf school and being surprised by this. (I am also surprised that the writer of the blog cant find shoes without characters or sparkles on them though LOL)

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